Seat and door from outdoor privy

Made:
1850-1900 in unknown place
wooden door (in five slats) painted green, with keyhole

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wooden door (in five slats) painted green, with keyhole
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Seat and door from an outdoor privy, about 1850-1900.

An outdoor privy midden was a toilet in a small hut consisting of a seat like this built over a pit. Human and household waste collected in the pit below and was taken away about twice a year. Middens often overflowed, causing the streets to run with urine and excrement. The sewage could also seep into the surrounding soil and contaminate the groundwater. Some of the pits did have pipes to take the waste away but these connected directly to rivers.

In Manchester, cheap, cramped, poor quality housing was built to accommodate the workers who flooded into the city during the Industrial Revolution. Often only one privy would be built to serve a whole row or court of these densely packed houses. Up to 30 families might have to share the same toilet.

Manchester gained a reputation as one of the most filthy, overcrowded and unhealthy places in Britain. Protests in the 1840s and 1850s forced local government to improve urban infrastructure like sanitation. The 1848 Public Health Act also drove change.

Details

Category:
Water Supply & Sanitation
Object Number:
2016-2010
Materials:
wood (unidentified)
type:
privy seat and door

Parts

Seat from outdoor privy

Seat from outdoor privy

Seat from outdoor privy, about 1850-1900.


This privy seat may have been shared by as many as 30 families.

An outdoor privy midden was a toilet in a small hut consisting of a seat like this built over a pit. Human and household waste collected in the pit below and was taken away about twice a year. Middens often overflowed, causing the streets to run with urine and excrement. The sewage could also seep into the surrounding soil and contaminate the groundwater. Some of the pits did have pipes to take the waste away but these connected directly to rivers.

In Manchester, cramped, poor quality housing was built to accommodate the workers who flooded into the city during the Industrial Revolution. Often only one privy would be built to serve a whole row or court of these densely packed houses. Up to 30 families might have to share the same toilet.

Manchester gained a reputation as one of the most filthy, overcrowded and unhealthy places in Britain. Protests in the 1840s and 1850s forced local government to improve urban infrastructure like sanitation. The 1848 Public Health Act also drove change.

Measurements:
overall: 1070 mm x 530 mm x 40 mm, 8 kg
Materials:
wood (unidentified)
Object Number:
2016-2010 Pt1
type:
privy seat
Door from outdoor privy

Door from outdoor privy

Door from outdoor privy, about 1850-1900.


This privy door would hardly have kept the stench of the waste pit from stinking out the neighbourhood, but it would have offered the user a little privacy.

An outdoor privy midden was a toilet in a small hut consisting of a seat like this built over a pit. Human and household waste collected in the pit below and was taken away about twice a year. Middens often overflowed, causing the streets to run with urine and excrement. The sewage could also seep into the surrounding soil and contaminate the groundwater. Some of the pits did have pipes to take the waste away but these connected directly to rivers.

In Manchester, cheap, cramped, poor quality housing was built to accommodate the workers who flooded into the city during the Industrial Revolution. Often only one privy would be built to serve a whole row or court of these densely packed houses. Up to 30 families might have to share the same toilet.

Manchester gained a reputation as one of the most filthy, overcrowded and unhealthy places in Britain. Protests in the 1840s and 1850s forced local government to improve urban infrastructure like sanitation. The 1848 Public Health Act also drove change.

Measurements:
overall: 1830 mm x 640 mm x 50 mm,
Materials:
wood (unidentified)
Object Number:
2016-2010 Pt2
type:
privy door